Ex-Oriire council boss, Odekanmi in murder mess four suspects arraigned
Four suspects, Azeez Kareem, aged 50; Usman Kamorudeen, 30 years; Oyeleke Amole, 40 years and Amole Tunde, 37 years, last week appeared before a Chief Magistrates’ Court at Oja’gbo, Ogbomoso, for allegedly shooting one Aminulahi Moruf in the leg and going ahead to waylay and attack him on the way to hospital with stones, sticks and other dangerous weapons causing him grievous hurt on his chest leading to his death.
The offence according to the prosecutor, Olajide James is contrary to section 316 and punishable under section 319 of the Criminal Code cap 38 Vol. II laws of Oyo State of Nigeria, 2000.
The prosecutor told the court that the defendants committed the offence on May 4, 2020, at Oke-Igba village via Tewure in Oriire local government.
It was stated that the defendants with others at large and facing a 7-count charge “did conspire among yourselves to commit felony to wit murder and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 324 of the Criminal Code cap 38 Vol. II laws of Oyo State of Nigeria, 2000.”
The accused were also alleged of damaging a Suzuki Carry Vehicle with Registration No. SGB 92 XA valued at N1m and driven by one Elijah Ogunmodede in which the deceased was being conveyed to the hospital for treatment after being shot by the suspects.
The suspects and others at large were also said to have threatened violence on Debo Thomas Olusola, the Chief Executive Officer of Hastom Properties Limited, which owned the contentious property at Oke-Igba and two others.
However, the accused pleaded not guilty to the seven charges.
The Chief Magistrate, Muideen Salami, remanded the defendants at the Oyo Correctional Centre.
Salami then ordered that the case file be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for legal advice in respect of the matter of jurisdiction.
He adjourned the case until August 18 for DPP’s advice.
Mr. Olajide James, Head of Legal and Prosecution Department, Nigerian Police Force, Zone 11 Command, Osogbo, reiterating there are other suspects who are on the run and are being hunted by the police including a former chairman of Oriire local government, Mr. Yinka Odekanmi, told newsmen that sequel to the provision of the administration of criminal justice, Oyo state which prescribes that a case of this type is beyond the jurisdiction of the Magistrate Court, the case file was going to be transferred from the Prosecutor i.e. the Investigation Department to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Oyo state.
He said the case had been adjourned till they hear from the DPP whom he said would decide “whether the proper charge should be filed at the appropriate court which is the High Court or that the Police should continue the prosecution outside the High Court, and until then, the suspects are remanded at the prison custody, and we are given another date to return back to court which is August 18.”
Speaking on the suspects at large, he specifically mentioned Mr. Yinka Odekanmi who is the immediate past executive chairman of Oriire local government and thus a member of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, ALGON, Oyo state chapter, praying the court to return them as executive chairmen.
According to him, Odekanmi was granted bail while the case was at the Oyo state CID office but jumped bail.
He further informed that rather the ex-chairman “ran to court to file an application before the court that his fundamental human right has been breached by the police,” adding, “we were surprised but we have filed our counter-affidavit to that application.”
He assured that Odekanmi whom he described as the mastermind and the prime suspect, would be arrested and be properly arraigned in court, stressing, “We did not arraign him today and we did not include his name in the charge sheet because of our respect for the court, which is the High Court before which the case which is the application for fundamental human right is pending.
“So, we want to give due honour and respect to the court and when the case is subjudice, we wouldn’t want to do anything to dishonour the court, that is why his name is not included in the charge sheet today. There are other suspects we are still looking for, as soon as we get them we will arraign them.”
Meanwhile, explaining what has been transpiring, Mr. Debo Thomas Olusola, Chief Executive Officer of Hastom Properties Ltd. affirmed he bought the land from the rightful owners, which is the chieftaincy family of Kajola village in Oriire local government in 2016.
Olusola disclosing that the land measured over 400 hectares at Oke-Igba, near Tewure, said they immediately produced its survey after the purchase.
Trouble however started thereafter “as one Hon (Yinka) Odekanmi started coming to disturb us claiming that he is a farmer on the land that he could not vacate the land for us. But the question we put to him was, are you the owner or you are a farmer on the land?” Olusola said.
According to the Hastom Properties Ltd boss, the ex-chairman insisted his father was buried on the land and having been farming on it for a long time, the new owners should retrieve their money from the people that sold the land to them.
It was further claimed that Odekanmi impugned all efforts at resolving the matter amicably and that he went ahead to engage thugs to remove the beacons put in place by the new owners of the land.
“This prompted us,” Olusola further informed, “to report him to the police, he was arrested, arraigned and was remanded in Oyo Correctional Facility. Thereafter, he started sending people to plead with me that we should resolve the matter that he would stop disturbing us that I should withdraw the case. Other people intervened including his lawyer and other eminent persons.
“He pleaded that he wanted to become the chairman of Oriire local government. Because of that and because of the respect we have for the people he sent to plead with us we listened and we withdrew the case, though I have discovered that it was a big mistake. We made several other attempts to dialogue with him but he was proving difficult, he refused to cooperate.”
The matter degenerated on April 23 when there was a coordinated attack on Hastom staff, workmen and other people who went to visit the site towards mapping out strategies for the current planting season.
“So, when we got to the land, the people from the village near the place said we could not work and so, they called him (Odekanmi). He came shortly after along with miscreants who were wielding cutlasses, and before we knew what was happening they had started beating the surveyor and they attacked our low bed truck operator.”
The attack was again reported at the Area Command Office at Owode, Ogbomoso and he was subsequently invited. “They asked him, ‘why are you assaulting people?’ He responded that we entered a land we were not supposed to enter, insisting we should go and collect our money from the people we bought the land from, that the land belongs to him.
“How does the land belong to you? Do you have documents he said he didn’t have documents. He was asked, what then, do you have to prove ownership of the land? He said he had stories and histories!
“The police had to tell him if you want to stop these people from working on the land, go to court to get an injunction against them. Until then, you can’t stop them from working on the land and so they told him to maintain peace. And so, he was released on bail that day.”
The Hastom people were on the land again on May 3, 2020 with the intention of flagging off clearing operation on May 4 but two persons said to look like miscreants accosted them and warned them to steer clear of the land that should they venture there again they would be killed.
Olusola disclosed that the miscreants mobilized now numbering about twelve and made to attack them but that they escaped and were pursued up to Tewure where youths there were said to have stopped any ugly incident. The Onitewure intervened and advised the guys believably working for Odekanmi to report at the police station if their property is being trespassed. Another report was reportedly made at Ikoyi Police Station.
On Monday, May 4 however, as Hastom workers began the clearing operation, the assailants said to be working for Odekanmi now allegedly launched another attack this time wielding guns and other dangerous weapons during which Aminu was allegedly shot in the thigh.
The men under attack scampered in all directions; efforts were made to take Aminu to a hospital but the vehicle conveying him was allegedly waylaid by their assailants who further assaulted their victims with cutlasses, stones, woods and other weapons. Aminu reportedly received several machete cuts in the head, mouth and chest. He died shortly after.
According to Olusola however, the attackers apprehended some of the victims and took them to the police station and that the victims were the ones detained instead. When the alleged mastermind, Odekanmi showed up, he was said to have been detained.
They were later taken to the CID headquarters at Iyaganku in Ibadan. And the case was later transferred to the Nigerian Police Force, Zone 11 Command, Osogbo, upon loss of faith by the CEO of Hastom in the handling of the matter at Iyaganku, Ibadan.
Nevertheless, the prime suspect, Odekanmi was granted bail but jumped bail, he rather filed a case of breach of fundamental human right accusing the police from Zone 11, Osogbo of harassment.
Debo Thomas Olusola who said he was joined in the fundamental right suit submitted finally: “it is now not really about the land but about getting justice for the murdered guy because you can see his family in a grievous mood, they are in court today, this was a guy in his prime, very young, he had a very young daughter. So, it is pathetic.”
The Insight was at Kajola village to speak with the head of the community, Baale Oba Azeez Akande, Onikajola of Kajola to shed light on the matter. But he was not in the palace on the day of the visit, it was his younger brother, Mr. Yinusa Akande, who rather spoke with The Insight.
According to him Hastom Properties Limited through Mr. Debo Thomas Olusola bought the land, close to 500ha from the family in 2016.
Mr. Akande revealed that the land in contention was actually leased to the father of Mr. Odekanmi and others years ago for farming activities but that does not confer ownership on them. “Who is Odekanmi? We don’t even know him,”.
Akande emphasized that the former chairman was only trying to appropriate the land because he is educated, and because he had held office as chairman.
He disclosed the Onikajola family has also taken Odekanmi to court over the matter since about three years ago. He stressed, “Mr. Debo is the authentic owner of the land, he bought the land rightfully from us, Odekanmi’s father was given the land to farm by our fathers in the past and that does not confer ownership on him and his father and others were paying tributes to us over the use of the land.”
Meanwhile, a sister to the deceased, Mrs. Mulikat Moruf narrating their travail said Aminu was a boxing coach and popularly called “Authority” and that he left home in the morning of May 4 to work.
“However, when he was supposed to have returned and we did not see him we became worried and so we called his line but it was not answered. We called the number several times it was just ringing it was not picked. We learnt later that he was shot while on the site he was working.
“We began to look for him; we visited Owode Police Station but they had no information on victim of gunshots. We also visited Ikoyi Police Station that night but no breakthrough too. It was on the second day, May 5, that they told us at Ikoyi to go to LAUTECH Teaching Hospital, Ogbomoso to identify a corpse there and it was him.
“The corpse was not released to the family, in fact we had to go to Ibadan before his remains were released to us on Thursday, May 7 for interment.”
Describing the deceased as a peace-loving person, who didn’t drink or womanize and who would have travelled abroad for a competition if not for the coronavirus pandemic stated that all what the family wanted was justice.
Efforts to speak with Hon Yinka Odekanmi, who is now wanted by the police as the prime suspect, were not successful, numbers put to his mobile phone were not going through, the phone repeatedly answered “switch off.”
Ex-Oriire council boss, Odekanmi in murder mess four suspects arraigned